It was in December, 1885, when invitations were sent out for a Christmas Social at Lowell. "Christmas Dance, Hale's Hall, Lowell, Indiana. Mon. evening, December 25. Committee: F. Nelson, Lowell; Wm. Northrup, Lowell; Frank Cooper, Crown Point; James Palmer, Cedar Lake; H. Clement, Orchard Grove; and Elmer Hayden, West Creek. Floor Managers: H.H. Purdy and R. Driscoll. Music by Dutton and Babbit's String Band. Bill, including supper, $2:00 -- J.T. Atkins, proprietor,"
Hale's Hall was on the second floor of a frame building on the site of the present License Bureau at 316 East Commercial Avenue in Lowell. The old address was 108 West Commercial.
Several of Lowell's early business owners were storekeepers in that old building. Frank Weakly, later well-known as a jeweler, was the owner of a grocery and restaurant on the lower floor in the 1870's.
Cyril C. Sanger (born 1839 in Lake County) moved from his farm in 1874 to open a hardware store. An old history book tells us that he carried a full line of hardware, tinware, stoves, and farm implements. August Renac was his chief clerk for many years.
Sometime later, before 1903, the Lavino brothers, who were artists, operated an art gallery in the building, displaying their work and, perhaps, painting some of the portraits of the early settlers.
In 1903, the Lowell National Bank was making plans to purchase the property than called "the Carrie Sanger Place." Carrie probably was C.C. Sanger's daughter Caroline, named after her mother, who was the daughter of pioneers Joseph and Sarah Childers.
Just before the bank bought the property, the building was occupied by a bakery and restaurant operated by George Heilig, who also sold fruit and tobacco. At that time, he was living at 128 South Union Street.
The bank building was not yet completed when the Lowell National Bank opened for business May 15, 1903, in what is now a part of the business building just west of Adams Standard Service.
Deposits for that day were $3,884.60, with total resources amounting to $21,209.85. New accounts were invited, with "prompt service and liberal treatment offered." The first officers were: Frank Nelson, president; George P. Bailey, vice president; Peter A. Berg, cashier. The Board of Directors included Frank Nelson, C.E. Nichols, Henry Surprise, George P. Bailey, and George M. Death. Presidents following were George B. Bailey, Thomas Purchase, George Foster, Arleigh LaMotte, Glen Dering and Kenneth Jones.
In the summer of 1958, the bank moved to their new building at 155 Mill Street, where they celebrated the Grand Opening on June 29, 1958. As years went by the firm needed more room, so in 1978, the larger building was finished on East Commercial Ave.
The Savings and Loan Company began in Lowell in July 1960 in the building now occupied by the Lowell Beauty College on West Commercial, founded by Stanley Sejda, the first president. The vice president was his brother, Henry Sejda, and Lewis Bagaloff was treasurer. In about 1968, the business moved to the building vacated by the Lowell National Bank on Commercial Ave. Then in February, 1984, after an extensive remodeling project, the firm moved to their present location on Mill Street, another building vacated by the Lowell National Bank. [Note from 2001: This building is now the Moose Lodge.] The present officers are: Gerald "Jerry" Sejda, president; Dr. John Bardens, vice president; and Robert Miller, sec-treasurer, who head the firm under the new name of Mutual Federal Savings Bank.
The original location of the Lowell National Bank is now occupied by the Lowell License Bureau, Robert Kalemba, manager. [Note from 2001: This building is now occupied by "The Vault" antiques and gift shop.]
Just to the west of that 1903 bank building was a tall, square front frame building, replaced by the present brick building early in the 1900's. We have little history of its very early years, though it could have been constructed about 1870. We know that it was occupied by the tailor shop of H. Gershman in the early 1900's.
Among many of his advertisements in the local newspapers was a front page ad in the 'Lowell Tribune' in 1912, featuring tailor made suits from Edward V. Price Company, Merchant Tailors, Chicago, Ill.
A similar advertisement in 1916 revealed that the firm changed its name to "Gershman and Berlow." Berlow was married to Gershman's daughter, Celia. Gershman also was the father of two sons, Isaac and Abraham. Issac, or Ike as he was known, joined the Chicago News Bureau in 1916, later becoming its managing editor. In 1952, during the Centennial at Lowell, he was very helpful in promoting and advertising the event in the Chicago Newspapers. He was named "Chicago Press Veteran of the Year" in 1960.
The Old Timer had a bit of a problem was solved by 'answer man' John Eskridge, who said that Ed Schraeder was there in 1925 or 1926, operating an ice cream parlor which was a popular gathering place for young people. In about 1927 or 1928, the business was moved to a newer building just to the west of the present Mid-Town Hardware, where it stayed until 1931. For some years Dr. Anderson, a prominent physician, had his offices there.
In 1941, Henry Sickinger moved his jewelry store from the building two doors to the east. He came to Lowell from Wolcott in 1928, and started the family business, which is now in its third generation. Henry, who passed away in 1964, ran the store with the help of his wife and his son Donovan, who began work there full-time in 1945, after military service during World War II. Donavon married Mildred Turner, a member of an early pioneer family in Lake County.
Their son James A., who began to help full time in 1972, also helped his parents in the store as a youth, and is now managing Sickinger's jewelers with the help of his mother and his wife, Cathy.
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